Last night was the very first show of Billie Eilish’s When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? World Tour for Australasia... kicking off to screams, adoration and a sold-out show at the Spark Arena in Auckland, NZ. Supported by her older brother Finneas O'Connell or better known as just FINNEAS, with whom she co-writes all of her music.
The night started with FINNEAS alone on stage, serenading the crowd in a white two-piece suit... almost a calm before the coming storm.
The lights went dark, the screen lit up with dark animated imagery. Eilish on her bed as the moon rises, her eyes glowing white. Spiders crawled, Eilish fell, suspended by puppet strings in front of gnashing teeth. Finneas (having just played his own set) and Eilish’s drummer Andrew Marshall took to the stage, followed both by Eilish and by piercing, deafening screams.
Eilish bounced around the stage, switching between vulnerable, cocky, and comedy remarkably quickly. Her body was a conduit for the words she sang, every second was a performance.
Without a word, Bad Guy the fifth single from Eilish's debut album started the set. Eilish bounced around the stage, switching between vulnerable, cocky, and comedy remarkably quickly. Her body was a conduit for the words she sang, every second was a performance. It was easy not to look at Eilish, Finneas or Marshall too because dark visuals and bright lights punctuated every beat of every song, the giant screen behind Eilish always accompanying her aesthetic.
The screaming from the 10,000+ audience was nonstop until the hook of the song, which Eilish didn’t need to sing. Her ghostly screaming choir did the job for her, it’s beautiful to hear thousands of people come together with a melody.
Later in the set, after the crowd had settled slightly, Lovely played. Everyone screamed again and my ears hurt, so I shoved toilet paper in my ears. Don’t forget your ear protection, kids.
For the soft ballad of idontwannabeyouanymore, the crowd held out their phone torches, waving like fireflies all around as the chorus, “If teardrops could be bottled/there’d be swimming pools filled by models” was belted out by Eilish and the crowd in mutual catharsis.
“This is fucking crazy”, said Eilish, “No for real like I’m standing here trying to think if this is a dream or not, my dreams be trippy sometimes.” Finneas stepped down from his plinth at the back of the stage to hug her – she wiped a tear from her eye. “There ain’t no fucking way that this is real.”
Copycat sent the screen behind Eilish into the woods. A dark forest filled with Slenderman-esque silhouettes. Eilish instructed the crowd to bend down for the bridge, and then jump like kangaroos at the chorus. “Lower than that!” she shouted during the bridge, but the crowd was so packed and excited that they could barely change their height. The woods on the screen caught flame, and everyone, even those in the seats, jumped like kangaroos to the chorus. Despite there being no wild kangaroos to be found in this country.
The stark contrast between Marshall’s stirring of the snare with his brushes during the verses and the thumping lounge lizard beat of the chorus gave power to Eilish’s vocal flourishes. Finneas’ fretless bass was the other highlight, a testament to the generation-spanning nature of the modern crooner song.
Xanny’s visuals were black and white, almost noir. Fitting for the modern take on a Frank Sinatra styled song. A highlight from Eilish’s debut from earlier in the year, the song took on a new life when performed live. The stark contrast between Marshall’s stirring of the snare with his brushes during the verses and the thumping lounge lizard beat of the chorus gave power to Eilish’s vocal flourishes. Finneas’ fretless bass was the other highlight, a testament to the generation-spanning nature of the modern crooner song.
“This is my brother Finneas, for all of you who don’t know. Number 1, he’s my best friend, we make all of our music together, he produces all of it. Number 2, can you all get your lights out on your phones…we’ve never done this one live before.” Said Eilish before playing an intimate rendition of I Love You. Anyone who accuses Billie Eilish of being an industry plant constructed by label executives clearly hasn’t realised it’s these two siblings making music together alone in a bedroom with full creative control of lyrical content, aesthetic, and image.
“Literally like right next door, there's a smaller venue. A little over a year ago I performed ‘When the Party's Over’ for the first time there for 200 people before it came out…now we’re about to do it for 10,000 of you.”
“Everybody hold hands with the people next to you.” Eilish instructed, “Now say I love you.” The crowd screamed the words at her. “No not to me! To the people next to you.” The crowd complied... a shared emotional connection that quickly turned into dancing as Bury A Friend began. “I wanna end me!” Eilish screamed in the final hook, bending backwards to the ground as if possessed by a demon.
Goodbye played over the PA as Billie Eilish, Finneas and Marshall left the stage – halfway through the song Eilish ran back out. One final disbelieving grin for the 10,000 fans who came to take a trip through her brain. For the first night of a world tour in a part of the world so far from home, it’s hard to imagine anything better.
Catch Billie Eilish in Australia next before she heads back to the US.